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For hundreds of years, nothing but steel shoes were effectively used on millions of horses. Later, aluminum and rubber shoes came along and then came development of plastic, composite and titanium shoes in recent times.
While most farriers still do the majority of their work with steel or aluminum, American Farriers Journal readers continue to ask for more specifics regarding the use of all types of shoes and where they actually fit in the footcare market.
While Walter Kreeger has found that light steel shoes with eight nails lead to healthier feet and hoof growth, he believes that tradition still dictates the use of a thicker wider steel shoe for improved wearability and traction.
For long distance riding on stone or concrete roads, the operator of the Northwest Technical Institute in Springdale, Ark., uses a lightweight flat iron shoe with no heels or toe calks along with Borium as needed. Steel is strong, resistant to breaking, easiest to use and easily modified or forged from bar stock, even by farriers having minimal forging skills. He says costs also still favor steel.
Jim Cochran prefers steel because of its proven history, durability and working ease. “I’m reluctant to use aluminum because of its tendency to react with the hoof in moist environments,” says the Powderhorn, Colo., farrier. “Aluminum doesn’t last long on the ranch horses that I shoe in this Rocky Mountain area.”
Scott Blunk says the greatest benefit of steel is offering protection from rocky surfaces with…